For the last nine years The New England Classical Academy (NECA), a private K-12 school in Claremont, NH, has rented the former school building of St. Mary's Catholic School, which closed its doors in 2009. Last year, however, questions began to loom for NECA's future in the city, when St. Mary's Catholic Church announced that it would reopen its own school in fall of 2018 and reoccupy the building.
On Thursday NECA announced its acquisiton of the former National Field Representative's (NFR) building on Old Church Road in Claremont, where it will relocate its campus this summer.
“I’m grateful for a space to call ours; finally having our own building signifies that we are planting roots here in Claremont, which gives us great hope and opportunity for the future,” said the school's Executive Director Liz Wilbur during an outdoor assembly Thursday afternoon.
The new location is in a residential neighborhood near the old St. Mary's Church, in Claremont's rural outskirts between its downtown and the Vermont border, said Heidi Fagan, school development director, in a written statement. The property includes a spacious, single story building with the flexibility to accommodate classrooms for grades K-12, and over five acres of land. Fagan said the grounds will provide ample green space for daily recesses, outdoor lunches and classes, and wooded land for outdoor science lessons and nature walks.
NECA acquired the property with the help of Claremont's Planning and Development Office, City Manager Ryan McNutt and Mayor Charlene Lovett, who assisted the school with finding an ideal property and facilitated the school during the transaction.
Fagan said that renovation plans are already underway to occupy the NFR building for the 2018-19 school year. Building renovations will include installing a larger septic system and fire alarm system and making the building fully ADA compliant. Initial renovation cost is estimated around $35,000. The school says it has already raised $23,000, including a $15,000 grant from the Byrne Foundation. The school will also need to raise $400,000 over a three year period per its financing agreement with NFR.
NECA's educational model follows a classical Catholic tradition, though it is not affiliated with the Catholic Diocese and welcomes students and families of diverse cultures and beliefs. The school curriculum includes a strong emphasis on drama, classical languages like Latin and Greek, recitation, and in later grades logic and rhetoric. The school says its class sizes are small, cultivating a closer engagement between teachers and students and fosters a tightly knit school community. In recent years the school has adopted the British model of academic "Houses" ( like Hogwarts, only not named after fictitious wizards), which fosters student leadership and peer support across the grade levels.
“This year the houses did an especially great job reaching out to the local communities with service projects, which builds on our character formation goals and leadership skills.” Wilber said.
The school will
continue to offer visits for prospective families throughout the
remainder of the school year, which ends June 13.
Information about New England Classical Academy is available
at www.newenglandclassicalacademy.com or
call (603) 542-6341 or email email@example.com to
arrange a visit. The school also posts ongoing activities on
their Facebook page.